Attorney General William Barr defends the decision to move the perimeter near the White House on Monday that led to a violent clash with protesters.
Watch Barr’s remarks in the player above.
“There were projectiles being thrown and the group was becoming increasingly unruly and the operation to which they were asked three times if they would move back one block,” said Barr Thursday at the Justice Department.
“They refused. And we we proceeded to to move our perimeter out to I Street.”
This comes after federal forces abruptly cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park near the White House so that Trump could stage a photo op in front of St. John’s, the “church of presidents,” holding up a Bible.
“I think the president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to the church of presidents,” said Barr.
“I don’t necessarily view that as a political act. I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do.”
The protest come after George Floyd, who was black, died May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.
Since then, Floyd’s name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people and empowered a movement.
In response, the Trump administration has made an effort to show a collection of force in Washington, manning the checkpoints and lining some streets with armored military vehicles.
The Justice Department had deployed agents from every one of its agencies, including the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, an elite tactical unit, and riot teams from the Bureau of Prisons.
The Park Police and Secret Service have had dozens of officers out in riot gear for the last few nights, in addition to the Metropolitan Police Department. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other Homeland Security agencies were also dispatched.
Most of the protesters have been peaceful and tried to discourage violence.
Trump, Barr and others have tried to blame some of the civil unrest on left-wing extremist groups, including antifa, and other “anarchists.” Short for anti-fascists, antifa is an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.